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What Does the Esophagus Do?

By    |   Tuesday, 19 Apr 2016 04:26 PM

The esophagus is an important part of the digestive system, but what does the esophagus actually do to help break down food and aid in the digestive process?

The esophagus is a hollow tube measuring about 25 to 30 centimeters (approximately 10 to 12 inches) in length, says Healthline. Its main function is to transport food away from the mouth and into the stomach for further digestion.

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Both ends of the esophagus are closed off by circular muscles called sphincters that typically restrict passage except at certain times when the muscle temporarily relaxes.

The upper esophageal sphincter (UES) is under our conscious control, says WebMD. This bundle of muscles lies at the very top of the esophagus and is used when we eat, breathe, vomit, or belch. Because the esophagus runs closely behind and parallel to the windpipe, the UES is important for keeping food from going down the windpipe.

The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is found at the end of the esophagus where it meets the stomach. This sphincter is not able to be voluntarily controlled, and it works to keep stomach contents such as strong acids from being released up into the esophagus.

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Once food leaves the mouth, passes through the upper esophageal sphincter, and enters the esophagus, it moves down the tube gradually by way of a series of muscular contractions called peristalsis.

According to Inner Body, in peristalsis, parts of the esophageal tube closest to the stomach get larger while the parts above it and closer to the mouth contract rhythmically to push the food down. Peristalsis can also be reversed in the esophagus, and this occurs during vomiting when the esophagus helps expel toxins or food forcefully from the stomach.

The most common ailment affecting the esophagus is gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, says Healthline. This condition occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter isn’t working properly and allows acids from the stomach to leak up into the esophagus. Over time, these acids can irritate and damage the lining of the esophagus.

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The esophagus is an important part of the digestive system, but what does the esophagus actually do to help break down food and aid in the digestive process?
what, does, esophagus, do
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2016-26-19
Tuesday, 19 Apr 2016 04:26 PM
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